Mayor Marty Walsh and MLK Boston announced plans last week for a expansive memorial project for Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King, which will celebrate the formative years they spent in Boston.
The memorial, originally planned as a monument to the couple in Boston Common, was expanded after 14 public meetings around Boston. The project will now consist of the Common memorial, a high-tech, immersive educational experience in Dudley Square, and an endowment for King-related programming developed with Roxbury's Twelfth Baptist Church, where King was a minister from 1951 to 1954.
"By expanding the reach of this memorial from Roxbury to the Boston Common, we are elevating the Kings' living legacy for residents and visitors across Boston in a way that has never been done before,” said Walsh in a statement.
The project will be privately financed by MLK Boston, a nonprofit organization founded by Kayak.com co-founder Paul English, who has given $1 million of his own money to the organization.
Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price joined Boston Public Radio Monday for another edition of All Revved Up to talk about the plans for the memorial. While both praised the inclusion of Scott King, they did not agree on the project’s overall message.
“I think this is great, I think it is long overdue, said Price. I think that the three dimensions of it is great, with the statue and the interactive digital piece, and also programming at Twelfth Baptist Church.”
Monroe believes that these memorials, especially the one in Boston Common, are emblematic of the overarching empty conversations on race the city continues to have.
“I feel that this is symbolism versus substance,” she said. “I think it is about tourism. ... I think that it is wonderful that if you put it in Boston Common, but the truth be told, you don’t really get many people of color that come down into that area.”
She continued, “Who are we doing this for? We like to do the symbolism and not follow up with some critical systemic change here.”
Reverend Irene Monroe is a syndicated columnist for The Huffington Post and Bay Windows, and Reverend Emmett Price is a Professor of Worship, Church & Culture and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. To hear All Revved Up in its entirety, click on the audio link above.